Background: The World Health Organization has endorsed the use of molecular methods for the detection of TB and drug-resistant TB as a rapid alternative to culture-based systems. In South Africa, the Xpert MTB/Rif assay and the GenoType MTBDRplus have been implemented into reference laboratories for diagnosis of TB and drug-resistance, but their costs have not been fully elucidated. Methods: We conducted a detailed reference laboratory cost analysis of new rapid molecular assays (Xpert and MTBDRplus) for tuberculosis testing and drug-resistance testing in South Africa, and compared with the costs of conventional approaches involving sputum microscopy, liquid mycobacterial culture, and phenotypic drug sensitivity testing. Results: From a laboratory perspective, Xpert MTB/RIF cost $14.93/sample and the MTBDRplus line probe assay cost $23.46/sample, compared to $16.88/sample using conventional automated liquid culture-based methods. Laboratory costs of Xpert and MTBDRplus were most influenced by cost of consumables (60-80%). Conclusions: At current public sector pricing, Xpert MTB/RIF and MTBDRplus are comparable in cost to mycobacterial culture and conventional drug sensitivity testing. Overall, reference laboratories must balance costs with performance characteristics and the need for rapid results.